Can I ask a quick favor? Would you take a few extra moments and read from Ecclesiastes, chapter three, verse 1-13? I'll wait right here...
NOTE: Today's entry will be a bit longer as it serves as an introduction to the series. The remaining entries throughout the month will be much shorter in length.
There is a subject that we as women repeatedly face over the course of our lives. It’s the theme of my life seemingly these days and a word that I use regularly to discuss things of both a spiritual and natural status in my day-to-day living. The subject? Embracing the season in which you currently find yourself. This will be the premise of our next few weeks throughout December. I hope you'll join me each week here.
When I was a young girl and began to encounter some real challenges in life, whether with school or friendships or family relationships, my mother would often use this terminology. “Honey, it’s just a season”. She knew that, having lived a few decades longer than I had, life would bring change & cycles of events through the years.
We as a society are very anxious people, aren’t we? It seems half of the people you know are taking some sort of anti-depressant or anti-anxiety anecdote or needing to find something to help release the tension. There is a variety of causes of that but today I want to hit on a mindset that seems to dominate in women. Scripture is filled with saints of old who triumphed in seasons of victory and groveled in seasons of seeming defeat. It was for this cause that I believe that the book of Psalms was written...for David and the other psalmist’s therapeutic needs! Comedian Mark Lowry once said that, had there been Prozac in David's day, we might would not have the book of Psalms today!
Job had his share of rough and glorious seasons. Abraham saw a few in receiving the promise of countless descendants, the doubting of that promise due to his age, getting ahead of the promise, then finally grasping the promise by Sarah in the birth of their son Isaac, then being asked to sacrifice his promise...just to prove his faith in the Promise Keeper! Talk about some seasons! And yet, Abraham is truly the father of this concept of faith. His faith, in times of victory, drought—both spiritual and physical—pain, joy, and doubt at times, made him the poster child for contentment and steady faith in the midst of all seasons.
...a tree is tested by the seasons it has weathered before it begins to bear fruit.
Pre-season and post-season harvests are never the best. They produce “really ok” product but not the absolute best. Rick Renner is his book Sparkling Gems of the Greek speaks of how a tree is tested by the seasons it has weathered before it begins to bear fruit. It must prove after its planting that it can grow those roots deeply and securely enough to stabilize and ground it before it can produce great fruit. If the tree produces fruit prematurely it will die soon thereafter. It had not proven itself through the harsh winter, the summer drought, and so on and was not prepared for its fruit-bearing season.
You may have experienced a variety of seasons in your life. Some seasons are a result of the natural course in life: your age, station in life, young children, teenaged children, grown children, marriage, number of years married, transition in ministry, loss of job, and so on. Some seasons are the consequences to our choices, whether good or poor. Each season’s outcome, however, is dependent upon our reaction to it, how we feed it, how we cultivate it, and what we do with its “harvest”. According to the verses you read in Ecclesiastes 3, there is a time and season for everything. It is crucial that we are led by the Spirit in every thing. As I've heard it preached recently, “we must be professionals at being led by the Spirit”. When we are led by the Spirit, and “seek first the Kingdom of God & His righteousness”, we can be assured of His favor & blessing upon our lives. Throughout this series, let me highlight a few things I believe we can choose as we survey these seasons and what they can do in and for us.
"To everything there is a season,A time for every purpose under heaven:"--Ecc 3: 1
#1/Savor your season.
When we look at chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes at face value, it sounds like a great little saying and even great for a greeting card. But when we dig a little deeper we see older, wiser Solomon who has hit a few rough patches over his days, some because of life that has happened to him, and some caused by his own choices. He sums up his thoughts in “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven:” Then comes the colon: and he delineates these many seasons.
And this is where it hits us: He’s lived life just like us. Life that has been lived in the natural, fallen, sin-plagued world that means we don’t live in the pristine, lush Garden of Eden as we were intended to live, where nothing requires the sweaty task of tending to it or laboring over the weeds. In comes the brutality that came with sin: birth, death, planting, plucking, killing, healing, breaking down, building up, laughing, then crying, dancing, then mourning. (This sounds a lot like the life of a ministry wife to me!)
And after he’s divulged all the highs and lows of these many seasons, he sums up in verse 9: What is the profit of all this labor? We’ve surveyed everything that life brings and all that everyone does to live life and for what? Verse 11: “He has made everything beautiful in its time”.
What does this mean? That chaos breeds beauty? That every choice, whether it’s good or bad, is just part of the journey and God is in control and we aren’t responsible for it? “Don’t worry...be happy” or “let it be”? Not necessarily. What it comes to is stated in verses 12 and 13: “I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice and to do good in their lives, and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God.”
If it’s a tough season, you definitely want to learn all you need to NOW so you can hopefully avoid a repeat! Life is life. We live in a fallen world. Seasons come and go. But whatever season you find yourself in, savor it. Take it in for all it has because that season will pass at some point.
I constantly am told by moms of teenaged and adult children, “those kids grow up fast. Don’t rush it!” Why do they say that? Because they are past the season of raising little ones and now fully acknowledge just how quickly it does pass by. In the midst of changing diapers, washing bottles, sleepless nights, and loads of laundry, you aren’t sure you want to savor that season, right? Or you can’t imagine a day that you’ll want to go back to that season! Having independent children sounds glorious at that point. But there’s something to be savored there. Think about this savoring in reference to the season you’re in today.
What season ARE you in today?
It seems easier to ascertain the season of every other woman on social media or in your child's PTA group. But what about you? Many times it’s the woman who appears to have it all together who has worked the hardest to hide her pain or insecurities.
I want to challenge you here: don’t envy someone else’s season. You may not know what is included there. As women we are already pre-disposed to struggle with insecurities, inferiority, issues that cause us to compare ourselves with others. This starts so early in us that many times we don’t even acknowledge that it shouldn’t be there. It’s okay to challenge ourselves to become better, & of course, we SHOULD do that. But too often we are guilty of comparing ourselves to others, failing to realize that that person may be creating only a façade of who they want to be...but their foundation is crumbling.
Be cautious against pretense. Facebook, TV, social media, movies, and magazines are key motivators for many women, and especially mothers, in today’s society. There is much danger in comparing what we see in light of even Facebook alone—other family’s vacations, homes, family photos, children’s accomplishments, gifts from spouses, her holiday decor, and so on. For a period of time just a few years ago, I had to cancel all of my magazine subscriptions. (I still can't bring myself to join Pinterest!) The challenge of what new projects I hadn't tackled brought this perfectionist a measure of anxiety I had to walk away from.
What they appear to have or be isn’t always what it seems. And it shouldn't define what you have or appear to be, either.
Let us be careful not to bash what we have been blessed with but realize that our Father’s heart is to bless His children! Don’t be a jealous sibling! If you are having trouble rejoicing with someone over a blessing they’ve received, take it to the Lord! He can help change your heart. (I’ve had to do this before!!) Sometimes we have to make a choice to rejoice!
Savor your season! Be deliberate about this over the next few days. I look forward to hearing what God has spoken to you. Will you comment below?
Join Bridgette next week as she continues in WEEK TWO of this series, Savor Your Season.
Bridgette Tomlin--the founder of Sanctuary--is a wife, mother of two girls, and 'minister of the et cetera' alongside her husband, Chresten from Tulsa, Oklahoma. She loves a great cup of steaming hot tea, the blessing of quiet spaces where she can think now and again, and the art of a handwritten note. While she's a vocalist, speaker, writer, and admin, Bridgette's heart is fully engaged in connecting every woman to their God-given call and gifts with authentic candor. You can follow her blog from their ministry site at www.ctministries.com.